Thermaltake Gives Level 10 Treatment A Gaming Headset
It’s been over three years since Thermaltake surprised computer enthusiast circles with the Level 10 full-tower ATX case. It was both elaborate and absurd in its features and design, costing a not so modest $700 then. That case has since been succeeded by a series of more reasonably priced Level 10 cases that maintained the original’s distinctive appearance as much as possible. More recently, Thermaltake has introduced computer gaming peripherals under the Level 10 premium name, first with the Level 10 M mouse last year and now with the Level 10 M gaming headset.
Like the rest of Thermaltake’s Level 10 products, the Level 10 M gaming headset was the result of collaboration with Designworks USA, a BMW owned design consultancy. Spoiling a bit of the review findings, unlike the Level 10 M mouse we reviewed earlier this year, the headset’s stylization doesn’t severely compromise usability or comfort. We’re not only much more forgiving of the Level 10 M gaming headset’s industrial look this time around – it actually looks better in person than it does in pictures.
The Level 10 M headset is quite cut and dry with its listed features and there are seemingly few gimmicks at work here. A 2-year warranty and a $99 price further drive up quality expectations. The headset is compatible with computers and mobile devices and either of the two detachable cables can be plugged onto either earcup. The omnidirectional microphone can swivel on two axes and can be muted by a switch on the inline controller. Two colors presently are available, Iron White and Diamond Black, the latter of which we are reviewing.
Tt eSports Level 10 M Gaming Headset Features:
- Aluminum base
- Mic-axis design
- Bilateral USB connectivity
- Adjustable, locking headband
- External in-line controller
Tt eSports Level 10 M Gaming Headset Specifications:
- Color: Diamond Black or Iron White
- Connector: 3.5 mm plug
- Driver: 40 mm neodymium magnet
- Channel: Stereo
- Frequency response: 10-22,000 Hz
- Impedance: 32 Ohms
- Sensitivity: 100 dB at 1K Hz
- Cable Length 3.0 meters (9 ft. 10 in.)
- Mic Directivity: Omni-directional
- Sensitivity: -35 ± 3dB
- Frequency: 30-10,000 Hz
- Impedance: 2.2 KOhm
- Accessories: Carry bag and 1 meter (3 ft. 3 in.) mobile device cable
- 2-year warranty
The Tt eSports Level 10 M gaming headset is elaborately packaged in a box hidden behind a cardstock sleeve.
A flap is held to the box by a magnet. Upon opening, a small accessory box sits on top of the plastic mold that cradles the headset.
Inside the small box are a multi-language warranty booklet and two cables. The cable compatible with mobile devices is 3 feet 3 inches (1 meter) long and terminates at a single three-pole 3.5 mm plug. The other cable has an inline controller and terminates into two 3.5 mm plugs for the microphone and headphones. The inline controller runs a little over 1 foot of cable from the headphone and the total cable length is 9 feet 10 inches (3 meters.)
The headset is secured by two twist-ties that thread into the packaging. The microphone boom is wrapped in a sheet of thin Styrofoam.
There’s even more! At the very bottom of the box is the neoprene carry bag.
The packing is quite elaborate for a gaming product. Let’s see how well the headset holds up!
Tt eSports Level 10 M Gaming Headset
A considerable portion of the Level 10 M gaming headset is constructed from aluminum making it heavy for a headset. A cloth-covered pad on the top of the headband, leather-covered earpads, and moderate clamping force make this headset comfortable to wear. The full-sized leather earpads also isolate noise.
The earcups are oval in shape which gives less room to adjust the headphones over one’s ears compared to circular cups. On the other hand, this design maintains a sleeker profile when viewed from the side.
The exposed wire is for looks, much like what was seen on the Level 10 M mouse.
The headband is adjustable along a ratchet and has a tension locking mechanism when the headband is stretched like when placed on the head.
The microphone can rotate about two axes. Here it is being folded onto the headset.
Near the joint on both earcups is a miniUSB jack for the included cables. This permits users to detach the headset from the PC and reattach the headset to a mobile device. In addition users have the liberty to have the cable attached to either the right or left cup.
The inline controller has a microphone mute switch and volume control. It isn’t heavy and it’s smaller than a matchbox, but being 1 foot along the cable may create situations where the controller will dangle.
The back of the controller has a mirror finish that easily picks up fingerprints.
Subjective Listening: Music, Movies, and Games
Not everyone hears the same as each other. People’s ears are different and preferences dictate our style. The subjective listening tests in our reviews not only compare the product with other gaming headsets, but also audiophile-grade headphones. Those who don’t regularly listen with higher-end equipment may not notice the sound quality deficiencies we are able to notice.
The Level 10 M gaming headset works well as music headphones. The sound quality is good with a warm characteristic that imparts energy onto music. The bass is not incredibly strong, certainly nowhere near basshead expectations, but it does have presence. Details can be heard at most frequencies, vocals are clear, and instrument separation is very good. This is a $100 headphone that performs like a $100 headphone. However, it’s not comparable to more expensive headphones.
Overall, this headset is versatile enough to be compatible with all genres of music. Listeners who want more kick from the bass may want to look to alternatives however. For gamers who like to listen to music with the rest of their free time, the Level 10 M headset will satisfy.
The Level 10 M headset is acceptable for watching and listening to movies and television shows. Like was observed with the music tests, the bass has the presence to drive action, but doesn't have an explosive punch. The headset’s warm sound signature gives strength to vocals and other midrange frequencies. Instrument separation is very good as many individual sounds can be heard with modest detail. The stereo soundstage however is somewhat lackluster. Overall, this is a good all-around headphone.
The Level 10 M headset generally was good with game audio. It’s most glaring weaknesses was the limited stereo soundstage and weak positional recreation which made it harder to judge distances and is most pronounced in shooters. Sound quality is otherwise very good and any music, effect, vocal, or voice communication was clear and detailed. I speculate this headset was tuned for RTS gamers, of which a notable few pro-gamers and teams of the genre are sponsored by Tt eSports. For that kind of crowd, it would make more sense for the Level 10 M headset to focus more on an overall balanced sound quality.
The microphone’s recording quality was unexpectedly below average. While others over voice chat had little difficult identifying my by voice and understanding what I was saying, the microphone added a tinny quality that added a robotic tone to my voice.
Despite what Thermaltake has listed on the headset’s product webpage, the microphone does not have noise cancelling features. Its omnidirectional pattern in-fact will pick up just about every nearby sound including mouse clicks and keyboard presses.
Final Thoughts and Conclusion
Earlier this year we were critical of the first Tt eSports product to bear the Level 10 name. The Level 10 M gaming mouse was faulted for overdoing a distinctive design into the ergonomics which compromised comfort for those who palmed their mouse. The Level 10 M gaming headset is not the case and the shapes that give style were built separate from the contact points that provide comfort. In pictures, this headset looks busy, but it’s very identifiable as a headset. It looks better in real-life because the matte finish doesn’t look like cheap plastic. It doesn’t feel cheap either – It has some weight due to the metal components and the hinge diameters are generous.
Sound quality met expectations and the Level 10 M headset did best at music playback. The tuning to recreate many sounds with warmth on the mid-frequencies is not only great for giving liveliness to music, but good for movie and game audio as well. Poor stereo separation and lackluster positional audio are faults that didn’t go unnoticed. As a result, the type of games best suited for the Level 10 M headset are RTS games, where distance and directionality aren’t essential to the listener, but a grander cinematic feel to the audio is more important for immersion. The microphone may be average at best, but it’s not outright terrible.
Unlike a mouse or a membrane keyboard these days, $99.99 shipped is not unreasonable for a headset. This is probably one of the safer pricepoints because one doesn’t have to always deal with both inferior construction and lesser sound quality when comparing headsets. The Level 10 M headset doesn’t do anything wrong. It may at times look gaudy and silly with its rectangles and shiny circles, but also majestic. Nothing was seemingly cheapened and a 2-year warranty indicates confidence in the manufacturing. Best of all, the headset performs on the mark doing what a $99 gaming headset should do. There was plenty to like about the Tt eSports Level 10 M gaming headset and thus it’s worthy of our Recommended Award.
Legit Bottom Line: The Tt eSports Level 10 M gaming headset is a subjectively good looking and solidly built headset with equally solid sound quality.